I speak to people every week who are seeking information about counseling services. For some, counseling is familiar. For others, the idea is anxiety-producing, even as they have come to realize the need for some objective perspective on the problem(s) they are experiencing. Many have the mistaken expectation that a professional counselor will provide advice about what they should do. In fact, some folks are upset when I explain that advice giving is not my role.
With my clients, I prefer to stress the multitude of choices that we each make day-in and day-out that impact the quality of our lives and relationships. Some choices are good ones, some are bad; some propel us forward, some set us back. It is so easy to feel ‘stuck’ with the outcome of our poor choices, that we are sometimes unable to gain a new perspective on our own. Yet, everyone has the opportunity to make different choices.
Rather than offer advice, I view my role as one of assisting my client in recognizing the consequences of their past choices, sorting out new options, and gathering the courage to choose differently. With increased self-awareness and insight, the ability to figure out their own solution is far more powerful than any advice I could ever offer!
For example, consider the question: “What should I do?” I might reply with, “What could you do?” This simple—yet powerful—reframe of the client’s question opens the door to multiple possibilities that now provide the opportunity to consider new choices.